Almost 6000 flu deaths

Soldiers who returned by the Tahiti wait at the quayside with their luggage. - Otago Witness, 22...
Soldiers who returned by the Tahiti wait at the quayside with their luggage. - Otago Witness, 22.1.1919.
Official figures are now published which show that the total number of deaths in New Zealand between October 1 and December 31 from influenza, or from complications that supervened, was 5959.

Over two-thirds of the total mortality occurred in the North Island. Viewed in dispassionate retrospect the results of the visitation lose nothing of their melancholy gravity. The dominion, for the short period during which the epidemic prevailed, is the poorer by nearly six thousand lives, a greater number than would represent an average year's war losses of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the great campaign now happily concluded. In one sense the value to the country of those six thousand lives cannot possibly be estimated. But in the cold language of calculation in which the actuary is proficient they would represent, on a mere monetary basis, a loss to the dominion of over two million sterling.

Historic visitation

It is of interest to read that a severe attack of influenza was experienced in the North Island as far back as 1839. In the late Mr Ro. Carrick's book, "Historical Records of New Zealand South,'' the following extract is reproduced from the Hobart Courier of March 1, 1939: "... The master of the Elizabeth and three of her passengers from the port fell victims to the influenza, which was raging in New Zealand with great violence, especially among the natives. During the stay of H.M.S. Pelorus (in New Zealand) Mrs Wilson, the wife of a missionary, died of the complaint. Mr Williams, the head of the mission, had been absent on a missionary visit round the coast, and returned from Tauranga in the beginning of January.''

Conscientious prisoner

A remarkable instance of fidelity in circumstances where it might not have been expected is recorded by the Samoa Times. Faasou, a Samoan Police messenger, was despatched from the courthouse, accompanied by a certain prisoner who was serving his sentence on a conviction for threatening to shoot another Samoan. On their way over the mountains both became ill with influenza, and it was with difficulty that they were able to reach Aufaga, where Faasou's relatives lived. There Faasou died. His companion was also very sick and unable to move about for several days, but as soon as he was able he returned to Apia, where he arrived 12 days from the date of his departure, bringing with him some official reports, together with the uniform of the dead messenger. The man had some three months of his term of imprisonment still to serve, but the Commissioner of Police has recommended his release, and he will then be offered a post as messenger in the department.

No nightmare

It is not a rare experience after a race meeting to hear that so-and-so landed a big dividend in some unusual way - by a dream, by some incident that happened on the way to the races, or by some other lucky chance (says the Fielding Star). It is seldom that one hears of a person dreaming that a certain horse won a certain race, yet this was the experience of a Levin resident, who some time before the Fielding meeting dreamed that Starengo won a race, and advised his friends to "have a bit on''. The dreamer himself had every faith in his tip, had a modest interest in the race, and landed the biggest dividend of the day.

- ODT, 22.1.1919.

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